Tag Archives: ice age

Macabre Macaroni for everyone

Lisa Burton

All the Time in the World

I stepped into the puddle then broke into a sprint. Maybe the wet leather would help me keep my footing as I headed into the cracks inside the glacier. I grabbed a torch as I passed by my camp, and increased my speed.

The roaring of the cave bear told me to increase my speed. Maybe he’s afraid of fire. All animals hate fire. Lighting the torch, meant stopping and using my flint.

I twisted and turned, looking for ever-narrower cracks, but none of them would get me out of the bear’s reach. His claws were like daggers. His arms had the strength of a backhoe. Who was I fooling? A bit of ice wasn’t going to stop him. Running was my only option.

As my strength faded, his grunts echoed off the walls of the icy caverns. He’d stopped roaring, and was focused on pursuit. On open turf, I’d be dead now. Just keep moving.

I focused on the watch at my wrist. Fifteen minutes and it would take me back, only it appeared to be dead. Frozen somehow in this prehistoric tundra. Move the arms, and the legs will follow. I passed the remains of a half-eaten stag moose, and kept moving. These wooly hides weren’t made for running.

Bears can run all day and night. If this remains a race, he wins. Eventually. Maybe he’ll get distracted. There was meat in my camp, maybe the stag moose will stop him. The sounds of his grunting strides were gone.

I tucked my watch under my armpit. Sounds gross, but it’s warmer than the outside air. Besides, all this running has it downright hot.

I stopped and showered the oily grass and wool with sparks. The torch simmered to life. A few hot breaths of air, and it burst into flames. I spun around and faced my attacker, but he was nowhere to be found.

I retrieved the watch and held it closer to the flame. It immediately fogged up, then froze. I stumbled down the crevasse and around a corner until I came to a door. Not a hide over a cave, but an actual metal door.

Nothing but a weird blue glow behind me as the flames flickered off the ice. No grunting or heavy pads striking the frozen muck. I touched the door in disbelief. It was real.

It turned the doorknob and went into a room. Two dozen men sat around a boardroom table. Some wore Napoleonic uniforms, or antiquated driving coats with goggles. One wore a leather football helmet.

On the opposite side one wore a form fitting spacesuit, his helmet placed on the table in front of him. Another in one of those pixelated camouflage Army uniforms.

At the head of the table, a man in a Polo shirt and khakis said, “We’ve been waiting for you. Take your seat on the historical side.” When he looked up, it was like looking into a mirror.

I glanced around the table. Various whiskers, glasses, and clothing confused me at first, but every man at the table was me.

“One of you knuckleheads really screwed up,” the version at the head of the table said. “You’ve messed with the timeline so much, I never invented the time machine. Hell, I might not have ever been born.”

“You can’t know that,” I said. “There could be other time travelers.” I pointed at the space traveling version of myself.

“There are no time travelers, even in the far future,” the astronaut said.

“I’ll do you one better,” the head man said. “When one of us travelled to the future, we could not have screwed up the historical timeline. It had to be someone on your side of the table.”

“This can’t be possible. I don’t remember doing any of the things your clothing suggest,” I said.

The driver pulled off his goggles, and placed them and his driving cap on the table. “How’s the bear?”

“How could you know about him?”

“Because I’m you, idiot. You were the first trip. I was there with the bear, and at Waterloo, and several other places. I remember, where you cannot.”

The head man slapped his hand on the table. “We are not here to assign blame. We are all the same person, and all equally to blame here. We’re here to solve the problem.” He stood up and paced away, then turned back. “We all know how to build a time machine. Let’s take stock of what we have available.”

“I have my watch,” I said.

All the other versions of me held up their wrists to show off their own watches, or pulled pocket watches from their coats.

“Let’s start there,” the head man said. “We have two dozen time-changing watches in various stages of improvement. I have cotton cloth, a brass belt buckle, leather shoes, a duct tape wallet with four dollars, and some plastic credit cards.” He pointed to me. “You have leather, skins, wood, and for now fire.”

“What’s the point?” I asked.

“Because all we have are the items in this room. Whether it’s chain mail, gunpowder, canvas, glass, whatever. We have to use these items to build a time machine of our own.” He touched his own chest. “Then one of us has to go back and convince me… not to take the trip that caused all this.”

“How will we know which trip it was?” I asked.

“One thing at a time. Let’s build the machine first. Then we’re going to have some detective work to do.” He slapped his hands together. “Shall we get started?”


Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes

The Idea Mill #15

A quick note for those who are new to The Idea Mill. I have several different push feeds that I check on a daily basis. I have them set up to push information about topics that interest me. I find it easier to keep updated on certain topics to keep my imagination well fueled. Maybe one of these posts will spark your imagination.

Underwater archaeologists recently discovered a huge monolith off the coast of Sicily. It is approximately 12 meters long, and I’m going to guess for the Americans in the audience that it’s about 15 feet. If you really care, you can do your own conversion.

This stone has three large holes drilled through it, and dates back to the last ice age. Apparently, this area was an island back then. It indicates a sophisticated society existed on the island that long ago. They were capable of harvesting and carving a stone that large. It also appears they transported it to its location.

I’m not intirely convinced that it isn’t from a later shipwreck, but let’s go with the story. It could lend a lot of credence to stories about more sophisticated prehistoric cultures. There has been some debate as to whether the earliest humans possessed a language. They would have had to if they were going to pull off this project. Here is some credibility if you want to write about intelligent cavemen. Maybe ancient aliens is your thing. Go crazy here. The article I read is here. Big old whoppin’ underwater rock.

It looks like we’re sticking with archaeology today. This story is from Ireland, and I’ve seen it on a blog or two. It appears that an ancient beech tree blew over in a storm. The exposed root ball contained half of a skeleton dating back to +/- 1100 AD. The other half is there, and the tree tore it in half when it fell. It appears to be the remains of a tall teenage boy. The body has evidence of stab wounds.

This is almost like the opening wet scene from any episode of Bones. It would be a great beginning for a mystery. I write speculative stuff, so I might turn it into some kind of ancient spell, or even turn the kid into a monster that is finally free of the tree planted to keep him down. Maybe I’d release an ancient disease instead. Here is the article: Big old whoppin’ dead tree.

In this story, scientists discovered the skeletons of 15 humans of a previously unknown species. They stood anywhere from 3.5 to 5 feet tall, and had smaller brains than expected. (I think some of that genetic trait is still present in some Idaho drivers.)

They are calling them humans, and they represent something new to us. The species is very old, but these remains are newer than expected. This almost certainly means they lived side by side with more modern humans. They also appear to have been intentionally placed in this cave. That could mean they had death rituals, or that whatever killed them had death rituals.

There was a time when science fiction concentrated on lost worlds. These guys could make great antagonists in an exploration type story. Your intrepid hero is hacking his way through the jungle, (because it really should be a jungle) when he’s attacked by munchkins who aren’t very smart. They make up for it in numbers and determination. What’s worse than Bigfoot? Fifteen Littlefoots with bad attitudes. Here is the article: Not so big or whoppin’ early humans.

I can’t let this one be entirely about archaeology. I can’t predict the stuff I’m going to find, and lately that’s what I’ve unearthed. This one is a bit different. It’s called What to do when Someone Gives you a Giant Squid.

The title alone intrigues me. This would make an hilarious mad science handbook. It might make a great graphic novel too.

In a nutshell, some fishermen hauled this thing in and called some posh museum in London. They created what amounts to a gigantic pickle jar and shoved her inside. There are some great details of the ammonia smell giant squid have and how it smells like urine. Awesome stuff for your novel.

The scary part is the weaponry this thing packs. The suckers are ringed with tiny teeth that equal razor blades. The scientists ruined a few pairs of gloves wrangling this thing into it’s pickle jar. I call this article, Big old whoppin’ dead squid.

These guys are awesome for fiction. We are pretty helpless in the water, and that ramps up the scary part. Add in those razor edged suckers, and even survival might mean ringing the dinner bell for something else.

Maybe you want to turn this into a mad science story, and release a creature that smells like pee, and has concertina wire tentacles, loose on London

Part of the shtick is for me to outline one story incorporating all these articles. Here goes nothing…

Our hero discovers a skeleton in the bole of a fallen tree. The skeleton holds a cryptic map to the Lost Dutchman of King Solomon’s Crown Jewels. In Africa he gets ambushed by a bunch of tiny cavemen, and survives by swimming into the ocean. He spies a huge monolith under the water. It turns out to be the Lighthouse that marks the site of the LDKSCJ. After his rescue, he returns with a ship only to find the LDKSCJ is guarded by a giant squid whose suckers can eat holes through a ship. Instead of Hook’s crocodile with the ticking clock, you can smell the squid coming. Use the smell like the theme song from Jaws, and have everyone panic when random sailor # 1 pees over the rail of the ship. (No more asparagus aboard this ship.)

Do any of these articles spark your imaginations? Would you ever use one of these as the basis for a novel? As one element of the story? Let me hear about it in the comments.


Filed under The Idea Mill